Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera, previously classified as Anas cyanoptera) are striking waterfowl, akin to their blue-winged teal and shoveler counterparts. They boast distinctive light blue wing patches and dark green speculums, elegantly accented by a white stripe formed by secondary coverts. Their yellow legs and graphite-colored bills add to their allure. During the wintering months, drake cinnamon teal undergo a stunning transformation, donning a showy, ruddy, dark-paprika colored plumage that envelops their head, breast, and underbelly. Additionally, they sport black coloring running down their back, covering the tail, creating a captivating sight. The contrast of nutmeg-colored tertials against the cinnamon body plumage is particularly striking.

In their non-breeding season, drakes adopt a mottled brown coloration akin to hens, with their wing feathers taking on a deep brown hue, fringed with a lighter brown. Distinguishing cinnamon teal from blue-winged teal becomes easier during this time, as cinnamon teal exhibit wider and longer black bills, accompanied by the drake’s bright red eyes. Globally, up to five races of cinnamon teal are recognized, each with its own unique characteristics and distribution.


Cinnamon teal are known to breed in two distinct regions: North America and South America, with minimal intermingling between populations from these regions. In North America, breeding populations are absent in mid-inland states, instead favoring the western coast of the United States, extending as far inland as western Texas and reaching into Canada. They exhibit a preference for marshy habitats rich in vegetation, providing both cover and foraging opportunities. These wetland areas, characterized by mucky bottoms, cattails, and sedges, serve as vital breeding grounds for cinnamon teal.

Throughout the year, cinnamon teal rely on shallow freshwater marshes, emphasizing their preference for specific habitat conditions. During migration, they predominantly overwinter in western Mexico, although some individuals may linger in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Unlike green-winged and blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal tend to travel in small family cohorts, primarily feeding on vegetation, snails, and other invertebrates. It’s rare to encounter sizable flocks of cinnamon teal, except in certain regions such as Peru.

Cinnamon teal, with its vibrant plumage and distinct habitat preferences, stands out as a captivating species among waterfowl enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike. Understanding its unique characteristics and ecological requirements is crucial for conservation efforts aimed at preserving its populations and ensuring their continued presence in wetland ecosystems across the Americas.